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In the spring of 2018, First 5 Contra Costa released its first county-wide assessment of kindergarten readiness among new kindergarten students. This assessment found significant gaps in kindergarten readiness in areas of the county. The analysis suggested that children who attended preschool or transitional kindergarten were more likely to be ready for kindergarten than children who did not, and the report recommended improving access to quality early education as the most impactful intervention to support school readiness.

Yet the path to successfully opening and operating a preschool program can be daunting. The funding streams and program requirements are very different from those of the K-12 education system, and an immense amount of time can be required to navigate them.

To illuminate the experience of operating a preschool program, in the spring and summer of 2019 four school districts in Contra Costa County shared their unique perspectives and program models. Despite reporting challenges and hurdles, each district also celebrated the many benefits of having a preschool program and confirmed their commitment to maintaining their programs.

The history, structure, and focus of each district’s preschool program varies greatly. By sharing the four case studies together, this report aims to serve as a jumping off point for any other district considering a similar investment in supporting student learning outcomes through early childhood education.

For more information or questions about this report, please contact us at 925-771-7300 or email us at